SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIRS OF COMMITTEES, WORKING GROUP ON EFFECTIVENESS OF SANCTIONS

22 December 2003
SC/7963

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIRS OF COMMITTEES, WORKING GROUP ON EFFECTIVENESS OF SANCTIONS

22/12/2003
Press Release
SC/7963


Security Council

4888th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIRS OF COMMITTEES, WORKING GROUP


ON EFFECTIVENESS OF SANCTIONS


As the Security Council heard briefings by the heads of its committees and working groups this afternoon, the representative of Cameroon and Chairman of the Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions emphasized the importance of regularly assessing such coercive measures.


He said the Working Group had agreed that sanctions imposed by the Council must remain in force until there was a change in the behaviour, actions or policies of the targeted entity.  The decision to lift them must not be taken lightly.  However, the exceptional nature of sanctions as a tool must be reflected in the duration of their application, he pointed out, adding that today they had become more complex and varied, to the extent that they affected not only States, but also certain nationals, groups and entities within States.


The representative of Germany and Chairman of the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 661 (1990) said that a final assessment of the sanctions imposed on Iraq would have to weigh the proportionality between their duration and effects on the Iraqi people, on one side, against their actual political effects on the regime of Saddam Hussein and on the region.


He noted that while the importance of the “oil-for-food” programme for the survival of the Iraqi people had been highlighted repeatedly in the last few weeks, the question of whether they had achieved their purpose was still to be determined.  Had their continued application been justified over such a long period of time without principal reassessment by the Security Council?  There would be merit in examining those questions in order to keep sanctions as a sharp, efficient and justified instrument in the Security Council’s arsenal.


Council President Stefan Tafrov (Bulgaria), speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, called for new momentum and a concentrated and effective approach regarding that country.  Somalia’s faction leaders had flouted the arms embargo on the country for years and the atmosphere of impunity had existed for far too long.  The arms embargo must be considered in the context of the political situation, and harmony must be established between those two aspects.


Noting that the Committee lacked the resources to follow up on violations, he noted also that countries in the area did not have the material and technical

capacity to monitor such violations.  It was hoped that the Council would continue to work with regional organizations in that regard.  Efforts must also be made to resolve any other problems between the Council and the countries involved.


The representative of Syria and Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 918 (1994) on Rwanda, said that body had not held formal meetings during the year because it had not received any information on violations of the arms embargo on that country.  In the absence of a specific monitoring mechanism, the Committee had depended on information from States.  While Central Africa, including Rwanda, was experiencing increased stability, it was essential to put an immediate and complete end to arms smuggling.


Finally, the representative of Mexico, which chaired the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) concerning Sierra Leone, said that the commitment of some of that body’s members, as well as that of the Government of Sierra Leone, had been crucial to its work.  The Committee had sought information on the work of other sanctions bodies and on problems concerning the diamond trade, which, it was hoped, would aid Committee members in the coming year.


The meeting began at 3:12 p.m. and adjourned at 3:58 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this afternoon to hear briefings by the Chairmen of the organ's committees and working groups.


Statements


GUNTER PLEUGEL (Germany), Chairman of the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1991), said his country had chaired the Committee in two crucial stages of its history.  First, in 1995 and 1996, when the “oil-for-food” programme had originally been designed in order to alleviate the negative repercussions of a comprehensive sanctions regime on large parts of the Iraqi population.  And in 2003, when the Committee’s focus had shifted substantially from its usual business due to the war-related interruption of the programme in March followed by the end of the former regime, the lifting of sanctions in May and the termination of the humanitarian oil-for-food programme on 21 November.


He said that with the interruption of the programme, the Committee had negotiated the content of Council resolution 1472 (2003), which would allow humanitarian emergency deliveries out of the existing pipeline of approved contracts.  After the war and the adoption of Council resolution 1483 on 22 May, the Committee had been taxed with supervising the transitional process leading to the termination of the humanitarian oil-for-food programme on 21 November and the transfer of all responsibilities from the Office of the Iraq Programme to the Coalition Provisional Authority.  As Chair of the 661 Committee, Germany had tried to ensure maximum transparency in the transitional process.


While the importance of the oil-for-food programme for the survival of the Iraqi people had been highlighted repeatedly in the last few weeks, a final assessment of the sanctions against the former regime still needed to be written.  Such an assessment would have to weigh the proportionality between duration and effects of imposed sanctions on the Iraqi people, on one side, against the actual political effects the sanctions had had on the regime of Saddam Hussein and on the region.  Had those sanctions achieved what they had been made for?  Had their continued application been justified over such a long period of time without principal reassessment by the Security Council?  There would be merit in examining those questions, in order to keep the instrument of sanctions as an important tool in the Security Council’s arsenal sharp, efficient and justified.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), Council President, speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, summed up the activities of that Committee during his tenure.


Somalia, he said, was possibly the only current State subject to sanctions without a recognized government.  Faction leaders had flouted the sanctions for years, and it was necessary for a new momentum to emerge, along with a concentrated and effective approach.  A united effort in the Council and better coordination of the Committee with all actors was also required.


He said that the atmosphere of impunity had existed for far too long, and so it was necessary to act firmly and quickly to catch up for lost time.  The arms embargo must be considered in the context of the political situation, and harmony must be established between those two aspects.


The Committee also needed the necessary resources to follow up on violations of the arms embargo, he said.  The establishment of the first panel of experts had sent a clear message in that regard and acted as a deterrent to would-be violators.  The Committee mission had also sent a message that violations would not be tolerated, and had provided some of the provisions included in the latest resolution.


One of the main points in the mission’s report was the lack of material and technical capacity of countries in the area, for the purposes of monitoring violations of the embargo.  He hoped the Council would continue to work with regional organizations in that regard.  Efforts must also be made to resolve any other problems between the Council and countries involved.


FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria), Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 918 (1994) on Rwanda, said that the Committee did not hold formal meetings during the year because it did not receive any information on violations of the embargo.


In the absence of a specific monitoring mechanism, he reiterated the fact that the Committee depended on information from States regarding violations of the arms embargo.  Central Africa, including Rwanda, was experiencing increased stability, but it was essential that arms smuggling be completely and immediately ended for such progress to continue.  Thanking all those who had cooperated with the Committee, he wished all members of the Council success in eliminating the sources of tension that threatened international peace and security.


MARIA ANGELICA ARCE DE JEANNET (Mexico), on behalf of the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) concerning Sierra Leone, said that there had been very interesting challenges during the year.  The commitment of some members of the Committee, as well as the Government of Sierra Leone, were crucial to its work.  The arms embargo had been made more effective and the travel ban had been updated.


She expressed appreciation for those who had assisted with the Committee’s mission to the region.  Seeing first hand the situation in West Africa, she said Mexico decided to work on various Council actions concerning the region during the year.  The Committee had also informed itself about the work of other sanctions committees and problems concerning the diamond trade and other elements, which she hoped would aid Committee members in the coming year.


MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUOU (Cameroon), Chairman of the Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions, said that sanctions were a powerful and valuable tool that the Security Council could use to change the behaviour of States, entities or individuals who threatened to breach or had already breached international peace and security.  The Council expected from the Working Group recommendations on how to conceive and apply more efficient and transparent sanctions regimes.


He said that in the past two years the Working Group had considered various questions, including how to provide States that were suffering the unintended effects of United Nations-imposed sanctions with access to the sanctions committees; how to assist third countries affected by the application of sanctions; how long should sanctions last; and what role the Secretariat could play in the monitoring an application of sanctions.


The Working Group had been able to agree on a number of points relating to arrangements for monitoring with the aim of identifying and investigating the sources and methods of sanctions violation, as well as evaluating sanctions regimes.  Some of the recommendations agreed upon were now being implemented by the Council and its subsidiary bodies.


However, despite the progress made, there remained much to be done, he said.  There was a question primarily of how long sanctions should last and how they should be lifted.  Everybody agreed that sanctions imposed by the Council must remain in force until there was change in the behaviour, actions or policies of the entity that was their subject.  Sanctions were an exceptional tool, which must be reflected in the duration of their application.  It was important to assess them regularly, since they were imposed because of the threat of a breach of international peace and security.  The decision to lift them must not be taken lightly and must take into account the specific differences of each case.


He noted that sanctions today had become more complex and varied, to the extent that they affected not only States, but also certain nationals, groups and entities within States.  Other sanctions, of a far wider reach, addressed new threats to international peace and security, notably terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Security Council alone held the key to certain moments affecting the human race.  Without that key role, might would become right in many instances.  The world’s future would be that which the Council made, or did not make of it.


* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.